Kolkata: With encephalitis claiming over 100 lives in northern West Bengal this year, all leave of public health workers has been cancelled for a month, a minister said Tuesday.

She added that awareness drives have been stepped up.

Health workers in the state’s Jalpaiguri district used the occasion of Eid Tuesday to address mass prayer gatherings to provide detailed information on preventing and fighting the disease.

“All leave has been cancelled for a month. Awareness drives are important to disseminate information, which is primarily being done through the local health workers and distribution of leaflets,” state Health Minister Chandrima Bhattacharya told IANS.

The number of deaths, since January, has been put at 109 by state government officials, scaled down from the initial 113.

Bhattacharya said the state government has requested the central government to extend the pilot project for adult vaccination to Bengal.

“The pilot project is running in Assam. We have asked the central government to extend it to Bengal,” she said.

Under attack over her government’s failure to combat the spread of encephalitis in north Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday suspended three senior officials, blaming them for keeping the higher-ups in the dark.

Encephalitis is a disease that results in inflammation of the brain, affecting the patient’s central nervous system. It can be caused due to bacterial or viral infection of the brain, injection of toxic substances or increased complications of an infectious disease.

While the lesser symptoms include headaches and fever, the more severe ones bring the onset of mental issues like seizures, confusion, disorientation, tremors and hallucinations.

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